PowerPoint Presentations: Consider the Humans

Do your PowerPoint slides look like this? If so, you need help. No audience can digest a slide this chaotic. No audience could remember it (especially not with a presenter simultaneously talking, trying to help but ultimately hindering the process). 

What exactly is going on here? Well, an attempt has clearly been made to show the relationship between “your team” and “your client”, detailing some key roles and responsibilities. Quite why it takes 3 circles, 12 horizontal lines and 15 bullet points to do this is anyone’s guess. And, what is more, the slide helpfully suggests (bottom left) that you can add even more experts to this already complex dynamic just as “your team” see fit. Dreadful as it is, PowerPoint slides like this one are commonplace.

You may have seen the image of Bryan Kramer’s #H2H floating around social cyber space this week. “There is no more B2B or B2C,” he declares. “It’s human to human.”  This seems to have struck a bit of a chord and yet it’s not necessarily new. We’ve always been human. For too long, however, the business environment has insisted on a sort of inhuman complexity. A worry, perhaps, that if a message seemed too simple it couldn’t possibly be serious. 

If it’s in vogue to acknowledge that humans do actually exist in the business environment, then surely it must be a good thing. At least some progress could be made in the 30 million PowerPoint presentations delivered daily.

Returning to our blessed slide and the “your team” it describes. In a roundabout way, six people are named. That’s six humans. Six characters in a story, intertwined by one key message: “Why you should buy from us.” Audiences like stories because they understand them; they resonate with them and, crucially, they remember them.

Stories have natural stages and chapter points. There is no need or desire to deliver everything at once in a good story. The same is true of a good PowerPoint Slide.  Basic animations and/or transitions can help you deliver a message in digestible chunks so you don’t overwhelm the audience with information. While there is really no saving the featured slide, you would have to admit that it would be at least a little bit better delivered in sections, like this:

We did say slightly. If the purpose of a slide is to introduce a team, why not show a picture of each person? Audience members will connect more, for example, with a picture of Mary Smith’s face than they would a text heavy-segment of a block-coloured circle. They may even recognise her afterwards and remember what part she played.

Taken through step by step, human by human, your audience may stand a chance of understanding your PowerPoint slides and remembering your presentation. If it is a sales pitch, PowerPoint slides that strive to be simple may just clinch the business. Think about it.

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